Tag Archives: short

Book One: Thunderbird by Sonia Nimr translated by M. Lynx Qualey

Book One: Thunderbird by Sonia Nimr translated by M. Lynx Qualey


My public library had this book and so I picked it up seeing that it was Palestinian authored fantasy, and I am always on the lookout to support OWN voice Palestinian stories.  The book cover is gorgeous, the inside text unfortunately is tiny making this middle school aged book only 110 pages.  It is translated from Arabic and published by a university, so my expectations were pretty meager which assisted in me being fully swept away by the story at hand.  Sure the book has a few glitches in point of view,  often it feels a bit abrupt and djinn stories are a dime a dozen, but what elevated this book and made it stand out was the Palestinian history interwoven into the plot: snippets about the Mamluk soldiers and Ottomans, the Ayyubid rulers and walls around Jerusalem.  There isn’t enough history touched upon in my opinion, but I look forward to see, now that the world building is established, if the rest of the series will highlight the historical thread.  I have no idea if the characters or author are Muslim, there are references to praying and hearing the athan, but they could just be cultural.  There is magic, fantasy, djinn, prophecies, and reading of tea leaves, as well as fighting, assault, and talk of oppression under Israeli rule.  I’d assume it is advanced Middle Grade or lower YA, but to me it seems 11 and up would enjoy the quick fast paced read.



Noor’s parents are dead, and she lives with a grandmother who loves her, and an uncle and his family who don’t.  When her grandma dies, Noor is alone and with things combusting in to flames around her and no one left to defend her claims that it wasn’t her, Noor is trying to piece together a ring left to her, her mother’s research, and her flame creation abilities.  Her search leads her to a colleague of her mother’s and an old archaeological site.  While staying with an aunt in Jericho over the holidays, a mysterious cat guides her to the same archeological site where the cat reveals that she is really a djinn.  The barrier between the seen and unseen world is failing, and Noor is prophesized to be the only one that can ensure it doesn’t happen.  With a trait of the mythical phoenix Noor must find ways to travel in time and retrieve a feather before the bird is reborn.  Along the way she will have the help of the djinn and of her doppelgänger from that time period.



The story is clever, fast paced, and the character endearing.  I wish the details were fleshed out and of course I wish there was more history when she travels back in time.  The climaxes are quick builds and even quicker resolutions, but despite all the flaws I really enjoyed the story and look forward to the rest of the series.  The book ends on a cliff hanger that feels rather abrupt, but being it is clearly established as book one in a trilogy, I don’t think readers will be too upset at the sudden end.



Magic, time travel, prophesies, fortune telling, assault, oppression, fighting, loss, arson, arguing, djinn, fighting


The book probably is too short for a book club read, but I think a teacher could definitely use it as a reference in story writing, historical fiction fantasy, culture inclusion lessons.  If you wanted to use the book, you’d be able to find plenty to draw on for teachable moments in literature, history, and writing style.  There would also be a lot to discuss in terms of occupation, myth, legend, and culture.

If your library doesn’t have it you can find it on Amazon

Musa & Friends Do Ramadan by Zanib Mian illustrated by Daniel Hills

Musa & Friends Do Ramadan by Zanib Mian illustrated by Daniel Hills

musa ramadan

Zanib Mian has really set the standard for quality affordable children’s Islamic books title after title.  So, I really was on pins and needles waiting for these Musa & Friends board books, and then I got one (thank you Crescent Moon Store) and part of me is really disappointed, and part of me is wondering what I’m missing.

They are at cheapest $8 a book, and there are 8 pages.  Yes, the binding and page thickness is awesome, and the 5.5 square size is adorable in a toddler’s hands, but I guess I wanted more.  More pages, more feeling or tone of Ramadan, a little more substance.


The illustrations are super fun and Zanib Mian has a history of writing toddler and preschool appropriate books, so needless to say I was surprised that I didn’t love this book.  Granted I’ve only seen the Ramadan book, and maybe the others in the series are much more satisfying, or maybe when you have all four together, they round each other out, which I’m really hoping is the case.

The text amount per page is great for littles, but the content is rather random in my opinion. They little diverse family and their penguin love Ramadan, they go to the masjid for taraweeh, they wake up for suhoor, they read Quran, they give money to the poor, they eat too much iftar and they love eid.


The book is meant for Muslim children as no details are given about what iftar or suhoor mean or that Ramadan involves fasting.  The illustrations won’t help much either in explaining the terms or even teaching concepts as the page on giving to charity has Musa and Penguin putting money in a jar, Musa’s dad is reading Quran, even though the text says, “Well done, Musa,” and even the penguin says “Gobble, gobble, gobble,” when eating(?).


The books are cute and if you aren’t overly critical and you receive the book as a gift you will probably be very happy.  I just expected more and after the smallness of size of “A Young Muslim’s Mindful Book of Wellbeing” combined with the shortness of these books, I won’t just blindly order a bunch of Muslim Children’s Books without considering if they are worth it anymore, which makes me sad.


I Love Ramadan by Taymaa Salhah

I Love Ramadan by Taymaa Salhah


There is nothing wrong with this dual language book, but there it isn’t anything to get excited about based on the story alone, either.  If you are looking for a basic book with both English and Arabic telling what a little boy does in Ramadan, not elaborating on any reasons why he does them, then this book will adequately suffice.


The book is just linear facts, I wouldn’t even say that it is information driven, as there isn’t really even a story, it is just a few simple sentences on each of the 20 pages of a boy telling in first person what he is doing.   “I finish my meal before athan alfajr and fast until sunset” it says on one page.   “When I hear athan almaghreb, I recite dua and break my fast with my family” it reads two pages later.  It does not define athan or almaghreb nor does it specify the dua.


The book is on the dry side, but I would image the simplicity in the Arabic, might be what would appeal to parents looking for their kids to read and understand both languages independently.  I don’t speak Arabic so I’m unable to comment on the grammar complexities or smoothness.


The illustrations are sufficient, again nothing super exciting or noticeably off about them.  The book is short, hardbound (8.5 x 8.5) and honestly, rather unremarkable or memorable, unfortunately.


Ali and the Moon by M.I. Kafray illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel

Ali and the Moon by M.I. Kafray illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel


I originally bought this book in Ramadan and had hoped to review it so that those looking for Ramadan books could benefit. But it isn’t Ramadan specific, just moon themed, and I really was so disappointed with the binding quality for the amount I paid for it, I didn’t think it was fair to review the story until I could get over the number of blank white pages in the book, and the overall copy-shop self-printed and bound vibe that the book emits as soon as you hold it.

The premise of the book is the hadith that if you see something bad you should change it with our hands, and if you can’t, then change it with your tongue, and if you can’t do that, then pray for them in your heart. 

The 16 page book starts off a bit awkward, with the boy just staring at the moon, but by page five, the story hits its stride and is sweet.  The moon dims and is sad about the state of the world.  Ali starts talking to the moon in rhyming lines, and convinces him that there is still good in the world.  The moon and Ali decide that at night they will pray for the world and the people in it.

ali inside2

The end of the book has the hadith and the surahs one should say before going to sleep: Surah al-Ikhlaas, Surah al-Falaq, then Surah an-Nas and lastly, Ayatul Kursi.

The illustrations are cute, they are expressive and the moon and boy sweet.  I just wish the paper had more weight and that the story a bit longer.  A lot could be discussed with the premise of the Muslim boy talking to the moon with a great vantage point.  More specifics and more inspiration would have made this mediocre, albeit expensive book, great.

ali inside